Thursday, 5 April 2007

Good friday lucky Bag

Happy Easter.
Easter is a festival of breaking fast and of feasting. The BBC recognized this by last night showing 2 hours of cookery programmes on BBC2.
The first up at 6.30 is “Great British menu”, a further series of competitive cooking. I must say the week long, a course a day format has more to do with filling air time than good TV. The whole week could be a good hour programme from start to finish.
This week it’s Galton Blackstone vs Sat Bains. Sat is one of the new breed of sub Heston Blumenthal molecular cooks. I must admit to being put off this style of cooking. It all seems so antiseptic and lacking passion, I also get the feeling that the younger chefs, who take it up, don’t have enough experience of the traditional dishes they are putting a new twist to, to understand the basis and flavour of the dishes. It just seems to be playing with your food. Also some of it smacks of innovation for it’s own sake, last night Sat was using a free standing induction hob to brown some beef when a pan on a stove would have done. On the whole I want Galston to win mainly because the other chefs pick on him and when it come to using local produces he’s been doing it for years, where some of the others seem to be doing it just for the TV.

Next up is Ricky Stein. You have to feel for the other cooks on tonight because after the mighty Floyd, Ricky is the king of food TV. His level of intelligence, knowledge and passion puts the others to shame, he’s not a glib bully like Gordon Ramsay, He’s not drowning in kitsch like Nigella, and he have doesn’t wozzers hollow eyes. His slightly gauche enthusiasm is infectious, the food looks good too.

After St Rick was Neneh & Andi cook which was surprisingly good. Neneh Cherry and Andi Oliver have been friends since they where Rip Rap Panic (if memory serves) together. I can remember when Andi was the less yummymummyesque Andrea! The show is a sub Jamie pretend “real” life scenario where N & A pretend to cook a meal for some glamorous girlfriends in a borrowed house. It was full of pretend bits, for instance they stopped in the middle of preparing a meal for 10 to go and buy gifts of designer knickers! There was also some clunky introduction of ingredients. Neneh Cherry had album called “raw like sushi” so why did she introduce washbi like it was the first time she’d come across it. Having said this the food was good, of all the programmes it had the most off the shelf recipes and was fun and engaging, Just next time can we just loose the naked chef pretend real life nonsense and just buy and cook food.

Lastly up came James Martin with the terrible titled “sweet baby James”. A title so rotten it almost made me turn off, what’s wrong with “sweet stuff” or “off his sweet trolley”. This was the most conventional of the programs, similar to Gary Rhodes shows i.e. well off chef tours country in needlessly expensive flash car cooking regional dishes. The hook for the series being that martin is revisiting his inspiration. Again not a bad programme at heart with a range of tasty stuff on offer. A couple of things did spring to mind, they have put Martin in kitchen with a young chef, who was dressed like Danny Dyer in “football factory” all chunky jewellery and Pringle
Sweaters, the whole thing had homoerotic air at odds with James Martins ladies man twinkly eyed shtick.

The other thing is James seems to think old fashion puddings are on the wane, this may be the case in chain restaurants but most gastro pubs etc are awash with spotted dick and sticky toffee puddings.

Street Sign semiology
Saw these arty mosaics in Soho the other day, I like the mystery element I haven’t looked them up as I quite like not knowing the who, what, why.

Days of Glory.
Went to see excellent newish French war film Days of Glory (Indigènes) that tells the story of troops from France’s North African colonies in WWII. Apart from the racial aspect it would be a normal war film similar to “Big Red One” or “Saving Private Ryan”. We follow a small group of men through training to first contact to a final battle, will they all survive, what will they learn on the way etc .

Added to the impressive battle sequences especially the finale, the film addresses the brave role that these colonial troops played in freeing a country that had previously enslaved them and to which they had never before set foot in. We see many scenes of inequality and racism from French commanders as well as internal conflict between Moroccan and Algerians etc. The film touches on deeply felt issues such as interracial relationships, when an Algerian soldier falls for a white French woman. The film apparently changed French government policy by getting back pension paid to the Indigènes veterans. Something that we still need to do for Ghurkha vets.

The only strange part in the film is Jamel debbouze who I first saw working in the green grocers in Amelie. A good actor (a comedian at other times) but he only has one arm, lost to a train 1990! The film just side steps all this, getting round the whole holding rifle bit by having him use a pistol! It does raise the idea of putting aside film’s obsession with realism and having a war movie where the actors are all wheel chair bound but act as if they are not.
Days of glory is a good war film that tells an important story well, it’s not too gory at only 12A.

Sweet of the week.

Cadbury’s mini eggs.
Being an old git I Last had a crème egg in 1975 my first and last. I was so disgusted by the horrid fondant that I have not been back since. Cadbury’s mini eggs (first made in 1967) on the other hand are delish. Firstly they are pretty with a real egg speckled look. The candy shell is pleasingly crunchy and the Cadbury in middle delish.

Honourable mention to kinder surprise.
Nasty but lovely white chocolate, a toy and the yellow yolk pod which you can squeeze and fire at your brother.

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